Armyworm invasion affects 400ha

By David Adin

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AN outbreak of the African armyworm has been reported in Mbire in Mashonaland Central
Province, where the pest is reported to have devoured 184 hectares of maize and 228 hectares
of sorghum.
African armyworm is the most devastating crop pest that causes havoc by feeding
voraciously on maize, wheat, sorghum, millet, rice and pastures.
Armyworm outbreaks are considered a serious problem in the province and since they affect
millions of hectares, causing massive losses to staple grain crops as well as more widespread
damage to pastures, affecting livestock production.
In an interview with Nehanda Guardian, the Provincial AGRITEX Director, Misheck
Chitokomere, said that although the outbreak had been reported in the province it had brought
under control quickly.
“We recorded the first African armyworm in Mbire, where about more than 400 hectares of
maize and sorghum were destroyed. However, we quickly received cabaral from the
Department of Migratory Pest whereby 10 routine sprays were delivered to farmers and the
pest was controlled.
“Every province has now got extension workers, tasked to lookout for armyworm outbreaks
and we urge farmers to report immediately to AGRITEX Officers so that the armyworm is
controlled before they damage crops in our province.
“We are also encouraging farmers in the province to constantly scout for other pests that may
affect their crops and come to be trained on how to identify pests,” said Chitokomere.
Since the outbreak, the Ministry of Lands and Agriculture has been recommending stocks of
chemicals in provincial offices.
“I am glad that we have received 100 litres to control another pest, which is called Fall-
Armyworm. The chemical is going to be distributed to vulnerable households. We are
allocating certain litres to every district in the province, where the vulnerable will be
identified,” said Chitokomere.
Due to continuous rains last year, the province did not experience an outbreak of African
Armyworm, whilst 40 percent outbreak of Fall-Armyworm affected maize farmers in the
province. However, the damage was not significant because under the Presidential Input
Scheme, there is a chemical, which was being distributed for free to farmers to control this
pest.

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